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Instagram changed how hashtags Work! How to use hashtags in 2023

Instagram is always changing, and so are the way hashtags work on the platform! The way hashtags work in 2023 is dramatically different to how they worked when the platform launched, and even just a few years ago. In this article we're going to talk about exactly how you should be using hashtags in 2023!

Wondering how Instagram hashtags work in 2023? How many hashtags should you use? What type of hashtags should you put in your caption? Let's look into it
How hashtags work in 2023

1. Traditional hashtag strategies no longer work in 2023

If you're still using the same hashtag strategies that you used a few years back, your reach and growth could be in trouble. Traditional strategies consisted of finding the 'right' hashtags, grouping them together - and hoping for the best. Maybe they would reach the cultivated 'top nine' spots on a hashtag, or potentially land on the feed of someone who follows those hashtags. While both of these things still may happen, it's simply not the reach we should be aiming for in 2023 - when many other tactics will propel our content just that much more!

2. Understanding what Instagram wants

The first thing you need to do, is shift your perspective on how Instagram itself sees hashtags. No longer are they simply a tool for growth, but now (as explained by Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri) they have a much more pivotal role in how the algorithm runs. We'll explore these more throughout the article.

3. Training the algorithm with hashtags

These days, hashtags are less a tool for reach and engagement, but more as an SEO tool. You see, the way Instagram's Algorithm rank content, is by gathering data about them. The more data the better. By understanding this data, the algorithms will be able to tell; what the content is about, the niche it belongs in, and who to show it to. Hashtags therefore, are now more of a 'touchpoint' for the Algorithms. Think of them similarly to 'tags' in blog posts. Ways to categorise your content amongst a sea of other posts.

You can use hashtags to 'train' the algorithm to categorise your content better. Remember, we want Instagram to know: who we are, what we do, and who we do it for.

4. Size doesn't matter

An outdated hashtag strategy that many still cling to, is the idea that you should use a specific number of, and specific types of hashtags, including a mix of broad (but not too broad) and niche (but not too niche) ones. However, the actual size of posts that use said hashtags doesn't really matter at all, at least not these days.

5. Finding the right Hashtags

The 'right' hashtags, are hashtags that relate directly back to your post, and your niche. Remember: use them like 'tags' or 'keywords' in a blog!

Here's a few examples:

If your post is: A post about how the Instagram algorithm works

And your page is: A tips and tricks page for Instagram Marketing

If your post is: A picture of Hailey and Justin Bieber

And your page is: A celebrity gossip and news page

If your post is: A reel of getting into the 'crow' yoga pose

And your page is: A yoga teacher page

Then your hashtags might be: #yoga #yogatuturial #yogapose #crowpose #yogahowto

6. How many hashtags should you use in 2023?

Instagram recommend using between 3-5 hashtags, however it's important to not that this isn't an absolute, or a rule you should always follow.

The reason Instagram suggest 3-5 hashtags is to help people avoid being too broad with their hashtag selection. If you limit yourself to 3-5 hashtags, you're more likely to keep them niche, and not get too off track with them.

Remember again, hashtags are tags to categorise your post.

Of course you can post more than 5 hashtags, but only if you can keep them niche and completely relevant to your post and account!

7. What hashtags to avoid in 2023

There are two types of hashtags you need to avoid on Instagram in 2023!

The first is brand hashtags (hashtags that are made up by you, to relate to your brand or business. i.e. say your business name is 'redbird' and you made the hashtag #redbirdgrams). Instagram won't have a bloody clue what you're talking about. It will confuse the algorithms, and they wont know how to catehgorise your post. Avoid them at all costs.

You can of course use other brand's hashtags if they are a big brand and it makes sense with your post (for example, if you are a fashion blogger wearing an outfit from Zara, you may want to tag #zara #zaraoutfits #zaratryon).

The second type of hashtag you should avoid, are banned hashtags. Certain hashtags, for example:

8. What hashtags are banned in 2023?

Instagram regularly monitors what hashtags tend to encourage behaviours and content it doesn't want on its app. These hashtags are then 'banned' as a proactive measure to enforce Instagram's Community Guidelines. When you use a hashtag that is 'banned', Instagram will restrict the visibility of your posts without notifying you.

A few hashtags that are banned, include hashtags such as: #adulting #asiangirl #babe #customers #dating #dogsofinstagram #followforfollow #humpday #instamood #lingerie #mirrorphoto #newyears #petite #snapchat #valentinesday #womancrushwednesday #wtf and many more! For a full list of banned hashtags in 2023, check out this complete list here.


How Instagram hashtags work in 2023 is very different to their predecessors. They're no longer just a simple to use tool for growth and visibility, but a complex algorithmic tool that can supercharge your instagram growth and reach, if understood and used properly! If you enjoyed this post, and want more Instagram tips & insight emailed to your inbox then why not join our newsletter.

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